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Modern Times: The 1920s

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  1. Modern Times: The 1920s

  2. How and why did business and government become allies in the 1920s? How did this partner­ship affect the American economy? • How did American foreign policy develop during the 1920s? • Why did a mass national culture develop after World War l? • How and why did cultural conflict break out in response to the new secular values of the decade? • How did intellectuals, writers, and artists react to the postwar era and what caused these reactions? • Why did the Great Depression occur? How did it initially affect the United States? • How did President Herbert Hoover respond to the economic crisis?

  3. The Business-Government Partnership of the1920s Politics in the Republican "New Era" Corporate Capitalism Economic Expansion Abroad Foreign Policy in the 1920s

  4. Celebrating American business Reverence for the corporation Rise of welfare capitalism among employers Position of industrial workers Aggregate demand for industrial labor slowed Dramatic increase in available workforce Became employer Unions lost ground, government hostile to labor

  5. Politics in the Republican "New Era" • In the 1920 presidential election, Republicans Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge promised a return to "normalcy," which meant a strong pro-business stance and conservative cultural values. They won in a landslide against the Democratic James Cox/Franklin Roosevelt ticket. • A new tax cut benefited wealthy individuals and corporations, and for the most part, the Federal Trade Commission ignored the antitrust laws.

  6. Politics of Business Warren G. Harding in office Republican nominee because of his malleability Aware of own intellectual shortcomings Made some excellent cabinet appointments Others, though, were disastrous Plagued by scandals perpetuated by “Ohio Gang” Died in San Francisco mired in controversy

  7. The Department of Commerce, headed by Herbert Hoover, assisted private trade associations by cooperating in such areas as product standardization and wage and price controls. • When Harding died of a heart attack in August 1923, evidence of widespread fraud and corruption in his administration had just come to light. • Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall became the first cabinet officer in American history to serve a prison sentence; he took bribes in connection with oil reserves in Teapot Dome, Wyoming, and Elk Hills, California.

  8. Herbert Hoover Directed Food Administration during the war Hoover as commerce secretary for Harding and Coolidge Saw government as dynamic, even progressive, economic force Associationalism Shut out of key decisions by Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes Brought different functional groups together to manage economy

  9. Vice President Coolidge took Harding's place as president. Although quiet and unimaginative, his image of unimpeach­able integrity reassured voters, and he soon announced his candidacy for the presidency in 1924. • Democrats disagreed over Prohibition, immigration restriction, and the mounting power of the racist and anti-immigrant Ku Klux Klan. • Democrats nominated John W. Davis for president and Charles W. Bryan for vice president, and in a third-parry challenge, Senator Robert M. La Follette ran on the Progressive ticket.

  10. Calvin Coolidge in office Untainted by Harding scandals Believed in minimalist government Worked especially to reduce government’s control over the economy Revenue Act of 1926 Twice vetoed McNary-Haugen Bill

  11. Although there was a decline in voter turnout-owing to a long-term drop in voting by men and not to the absence of votes by newly enfranchised women­ Coolidge won decisively. • Many women tried to break into party politics, but Democrats and Republicans granted them only token positions on party committees; women were more influential as lobbyists.

  12. The Women's Joint Congressional Committee lobbied actively for reform legislation, and its major accomplishment was the short-lived Sheppard-Towner Federal Maternity and Infancy Act. Congress cut the act's funding when politicians realized that women did not vote in a bloc. • The roadblocks women activists faced were part of a broader public antipathy to ambitious reforms. After years of progressive reforms and an expanded federal presence in World War I, Americans were unenthusiastic about increased taxation or more governmental bureaucracy.

  13. Corporate Capitalism • The revolution in business management that began in the 1890s finally triumphed in the 1920s. Large-scale corporate bureauc­racies headed by chief executive officers (CEOs) replaced individual- or family-run enterprises as the major form of business organization. • By 1930 a handful of managers stood at the center of American economic life. As a result of a vigorous pattern of consolidation, the 200 largest corporations controlled almost half the non banking corporate wealth in the United States.

  14. During the 1920s businesses combined at a rapid rate. Rarely did any single corporation monopolize an entire industry; rather) an oligopoly of a few major producers dominated the market and controlled prices. The nation's financial institutions expanded and consolidated along with its corporations. Total banking assets rose from $48 billion in 1919 to $72 billionin 1929.

  15. Immediately after World War I, the nation experienced a series of economic shocks. In 1919, Americans spent their wartime savings, causing rampant inflation: prices jumped by a third in a single year. Then came a sharp two-year recession that raised unemployment to 10 percent and cut prices more than 20 percent.

  16. Finally, in 1922 the economy began to grow smoothly and almost continuously. Between 1922 and 1929 the gross domestic product (GDP) grew from $74.1 billion to $103.1 billion, approximately 40 percent, and per capita income rose impressively from $641 to $847. • An abundance of new consumer products, particularly the automobile, sparked economic growth during the 1920s. Manufacturing output expanded 64 per­cent during the decade, as factories churned out millions of cars, refrigerators, stoves, and radios.

  17. The economy had some weaknesses. Agriculture-which still employed one­fourth of all workers-never fully recovered from the postwar recession. During the war, American farmers had borrowed heavily to expand production. As European farmers returned to their fields, the world market was glutted with goods. Wheat prices dropped by 40 percent. corn by 32 percent, and hogs by 50 percent. • As their income plunged, farmers looked to Congress for help. The McNary-Haugen bills of 1927 and 1928 proposed a system of federal price supports for a slew of agricultural products - wheat, corn, cotton. rice, and tobacco. President Coolidge opposed the bills as "class" (special­interest) legislation and vetoed both of them.

  18. Between 1919 and 1929. the farmers' share of the national income plummeted from 16 percent to 8.8 percent. • Some urban employees received a larger share of the decade's prosperity. The 1920s were the heyday of a welfare capitalism system of labor relations that stressed management's responsibility for employees' well-being. At a time when unemployment compensation and government­sponsored pensions did not exist, General Electric, U.S. Steel, and other large corporations offered workers health insurance, old-age pension plans, and the opportunity to buy stock in the company at below­market prices.

  19. Welfare capitalism, the American Plan (or nonunion shop), and Supreme Court decisions that limited workers' ability to strike all helped to erode the strength of unions.

  20. Economic Expansion Abroad • During the 1920s the United States was the most productive country in the world and competed in foreign markets that eagerly desired American consumer products. • American investment abroad more than doubled between 1919 and 1930: by the end of the 1920s. American corporations had invested $15.2 billion in foreign countries.

  21. European countries had difficulty repaying their war debts to the United States due to tariffs such as the Fordney-McCumber Tariff of 1922 and the Hawley-Smoot Tariff of 1930, which advanced the long­standing Republican policy of protectionism and economic nationalism. • In 1924, the nations of France, Great Britain, and Germany joined with the United States in a plan to promote European financial stability. The Dawes Plan offered Germany substantial loans from American banks and a reduction in the amount of reparations owed to the Allies.

  22. The plan did not provide a permanent solution because of the instability of the international economic system; if the out­flow of capital from the United States were to slow or stop, the international financial structure could collapse.

  23. Foreign Policy in the 1920s • American efforts to shore up the international economy belie the common view of U.S. foreign affairs as isolationist in the interwar period. • Expansion into new markets was fundamental to the prosperity of the 1920s, and U.S. officials sought a stable international order to facilitate American investments in foreign markets.

  24. Relations with Mexico remained tense, a legacy of U.S. intervention during the Mexican Revolution and of the Mexican government's efforts to nationalize its oil and mineral deposits. • The United States continued the quest for peaceful ways to dominate the Western Hemisphere both economically and diplomatically but retreated slightly from military intervention in Latin America.

  25. There was little popular or political sup­port for formal diplomatic commitments to allies, European or otherwise; the United States never joined the League of Nations or the Court of International Justice. • International cooperation came through forums such as the 1921 Washington Naval Arms Conference, at which the naval powers agreed to halt construction of battleships for ten years and to limit their future shipbuilding to a set ratio to encourage stability in areas such as the Far East and to protect the postwar economy from an expensive arms race.

  26. Washington Naval Conference, 1921–1922 • Five-Power Treaty

  27. Politics of Business (cont) Dawes Plan, 1924 Reduced German economy U.S. aid to stabilize German economy

  28. Kellogg-Briand Pact, 1928 International compact outlawing war as a tool of national policy Through the Kellogg Plan, the United States joined other nations in condemning militarism; critics complained that the act lacked mechanisms for enforcement.

  29. Hands-on approach in Latin America • U.S. policymakers vacillated between wanting to playa larger role in world events and fearing that treaties and responsibilities would limit their ability to act unilaterally; their diplomatic efforts proved inadequate to the mounting crises that followed in the wake of World War I.

  30. A New National Culture • A Consumer Society • The World of the Automobile • The Movies and Mass Culture

  31. Brief Post-World War I depression Remarkable period of growth began in 1922 and lasted until 1929 Shift from capital goods to consumer goods production Durables and perishables both Led to complete transformation of American life Stock buying also gained in popularity

  32. A Consumer Society • Although millions of Americans shared similar daily experiences, participation in commercial mass culture was not universal, nor did it mean mainstream conversion to middle-class values. • Because unequal distribution of income limited their ability to buy enticing new products, many Americans stretched their incomes by buying consumer goods on the newly devised installment plan.

  33. Proliferation of consumer credit to facilitate purchases Many poor excluded from consumer revolution Rise of advertising and mass marketing To generate demand for products that could make a product seem the answer to a consumer’s desires Advertisers played upon people’s emotions and vulnerabilities

  34. Electric appliances made housewives' chores easier, yet their leisure time did not dramatically increase, as more middle-class housewives did their own housework and laundry. • The advertising industry spent billions of dollars annually to entice consumers into buying their goods; advertisers made consumption a cultural ideal for most of the middle class.

  35. This 1924 ad in the Ladies' Home Journal, reflects advertisers' sense of the growing importance of the role of the "modern" housewife as the family's purchasing agent.

  36. The healthy outdoor girl, smartly turned out in her raccoon coat and pennant, flatters a naive college football hero but remains in control.

  37. The Victrola, or phonograph, broughtmusic and entertainment into the homes of many Americans in the 1920s. Italian tenor Enrico Caruso was one of the first opera singers to master this new medium, broadening his appeal beyond opera houses and concert halls through his extensive recordings.

  38. The World of the Automobile • No possession Typified the new consumer culture better than the automobile. • Mass production of automobiles stimulated the prosperity of the 1920s, and by the end of the decade, Americans owned about 80 percent of the world's automobiles. • Auto production stimulated the steel, petroleum, chemical, rubber, and glass industries and caused an increase in high­way construction.

  39. Car ownership spurred the growth of suburbs, contributed to real estate speculation, and led to the building of the first shopping center. • The auto also changed the way Americans spent their leisure time in that they took to the roads, becoming a nation of tourists; the American Automobile Association, founded in 1902, reported in 1929 that almost a third of the population took vacations by automobile.

  40. The first shopping mall was the Country Club Plaza, founded by the J.C. Nichols Company and opened near Kansas City, Mo., in 1922. The first enclosed mall called Southdale opened in Edina, Minnesota (near Minneapolis) in 1956.

  41. The auto also changed the way Americans spent their leisure time in that they took to the roads, becoming a nation of tourists; the American Automobile Association, founded in 1902, reported in 1929 that almost a third of the population took vacations by automobile. • Cars also changed the dating patterns of young Americans in that they offered more privacy and comfort than family living rooms or front porches and contributed to increased sexual experimentation among the young.

  42. The Movies and Mass Culture • The movie industry probably did more than anything else to disseminate common values and attitudes, the roots of which were the turn-of-the-century nickelodeons, where for a nickel the mostly working-class audience could see a one-reel silent film. • By 1910 the moviemaking industry had concentrated in southern California because of its mild climate and varied scenery, in addition to Los Angeles's reputation as an antiunion town.

  43. By the end of World War I, the United States was producing 90 percent of the world's films; when studios began making feature films and showing them in large ornate theaters, middle-class Americans began to attend. • Early movie stars became national idols who helped to set national trends in clothing and hairstyles. • Then a new cultural icon, the flapper, appeared to represent emancipated womanhood. Clara Bow was Hollywood's favorite flapper; like so many cultural icons, the flapper represented only a tiny minority of women.

  44. Changing attitudes toward marriage and sexuality Greater openness in attitudes toward sex Push for compatibility and companionship in marriage

  45. Women workers Earned less than male workers, even for same jobs Drawn to white collar work for better opportunities Concentrated in “female” professions Female college enrollment increased 50 percent during decade

  46. The advent of "talkies" made movies even more powerful influences; The Jazz Singer (1927) was the first feature-length film to offer sound; two years later all the major studios had made the transition to "talkies." • The movies were big business, grossing $1.6 billion in 1926. By 1929, the nation's 23,000 movie theaters were selling 90 million tickets a year.

  47. Jazz was an important part of the new mass culture. Jazz music had its roots in African American music forms) such as ragtime and blues, and most of the early jazz musicians were African Americans who brought southern music to northern cities. Some of the best-known black jazz performers were "Jelly Roll" Morton, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, and Duke Ellington. • Tabloid newspapers and magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Reader's Digest, and Good Housekeeping helped to establish national standards of taste and behavior.

  48. Professional radio broadcasting began in 1920, and by 1929, about 40 percent of households owned a radio; American radio stations operated for profit, and although the government licensed the sta­tions, their revenue came primarily from advertisers and corporate sponsors. • Leisure became increasingly tied to con­sumption and mass media, as Americans had more time and energy to spend on recreation. • Baseball continued to be a national pastime, giving rise to stars such as Babe Ruth. Black athletes such as Satchel Paige played in Negro leagues formed in the1920s.